Reality: The NFL Salary Cap was raised to $133 million for 2014, and the Ravens are currently a bit more than $20 million under it (pending details of Dennis Pitta’s deal, per our own Brian McFarland.)
Perception: The Ravens are being sticklers with exactly how their money is spent this off-season… and that’s a good thing. The Ravens freed up nearly $5 million in salary cap space by cutting Vonta Leach and Jameel McClain. Ozzie Newsome said there might be the opportunity for the Ravens to re-sign both of them, but that’s just being polite. It’s like breaking up with your girlfriend and saying, “I’ve got so much going on right now I just don’t have the time that I need to date you. So can we just be friends for now, and maybe get back together in a little while?”
The fact is, unless Leach takes a major pay cut, he is not coming back. The Ravens are going with a different offense and will not spend money on a guy who barely sees the field. McClain did enough to show another team that he deserves their money and they will overpay for him…the Ravens won’t.
Then the Ravens went out and did what they had to do by signing tight end Dennis Pitta to a five-year contract worth $32.5 million. According to Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com, Pitta is going to average $6.4 million per season – that’s not even in the top 5 for tight ends. To me, that’s a great deal for the Ravens. They get to keep the receiver that Joe Flacco trusts the most, plus a reliable hands guy across the middle. If they were going to spend money this off-season, this was the guy to spend it on.
The Ravens did not put the Franchise Tag on Eugene Monroe, and while that doesn’t mean he won’t get re-signed, it’s more unlikely now. The Ravens can continue to negotiate with him exclusively until Saturday. Then any team can talk to him, but can’t sign him until next Tuesday. It was a good move to not tag Monroe. If they did, it would have taken $11.6 million in cap space. That is too much money to spend when the team has so many other needs. That much money should only be spent on top-tier offensive linemen… like Jonathan Odgen. Monroe is very good at what he does, but not great. $11.6 million is for those that are great. But, could they work out a long-term deal this week that would still reward Monroe nicely? They could, but according to reports, they have some work to do to close the financial gap between the Ravens and Monroe.
Reality: According to Judy Battista of NFL.com, the NFL is considering moving the “Extra Point” from the 2-yard line to the 25-yard line, changing the kick from a 19-yard field goal to a 42-yard field goal.
Perception: I actually like this idea. I’m okay with increasing the chances of missing the extra point, but I’m not okay with getting rid of the field goal extra point attempt all together. I think special teams is still very much needed in football. Battista made a good point when she said:
A longer extra-point try certainly would make things more interesting and require significantly more strategizing. The conversion rate of field goals between 40 and 49 yards last season was 83 percent. The last time the extra-point conversation rate regularly fell below 90 percent was in the 1930s and early 1940s. That surely would give coaches something to ponder when weighing whether to kick for one point or try for two, with the success rate for two-point conversion attempts typically around 50 percent.
However, SI.com’s Peter King doesn’t seem to agree with keeping the extra point kick, and he had a discussion on twitter with the Ravens kicker Justin Tucker last night.
Peter King: My view: Something must be done. This [proposed 42-yard attempt] is a start.
Justin Tucker: Part of being a pro is making what you do look easy to everyone who’s watching. It’s not (esp in AFC North)..
Peter King: You’re a great PK. But AFC North kickers were 117-117 in Oct/Nov/Dec last year. It’s too easy, too monotonous. It is not a competitive football play. Point is, if you invented football today, you’d never have, as a mode to score, a play that’s successful 99.6% of the time. That is all.
I have no problem making a change to make it more difficult, and to change up coaching strategies. But I can also see how it would upset kickers. Yes, all of America might think it’s too easy to hit a 25-yard field goal, until we went out there to try it. However, making the change will also make kickers more valuable, as a 42-yard extra point would be much more difficult and those one-point attempts can really add up throughout a game.